On March 28th, the Venezuelan Security Service’s HQ – el Helicoide in Caracas, Venezuela – caught fire.
It serves as the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). Guaido’s arrested chief of staff Roberto Marrero was also held there, according to a report by Te Lo Cuento.
There has been no official announcement by the Venezuelan authorities as of the morning of March 29th.
For their part, the firefighters of the Capital District are in the place trying to put out the fire, but according to journalist Román Camacho, the fire was possibly produced by the adjacent brush.
Roberto Marrero was the last person to be put in the branch for political prisoners of el Helicoide, but the director of the NGO Penal Forum, Alfredo Romero, explained that the fire occurred on the opposite side in which the prisoners are, so it would not affect the prisoners. He also said that the political prisoner wing currently held 20 individuals.
— Alfredo Romero (@alfredoromero) March 28, 2019
The fire in such an important security facility, and shortly after the blackout and vows that there would be a response against Marrero’s arrest appears to reinforce the “terrorist attacks” narrative the Maduro government is claiming.
Also on March 28th, Venezuela’s Ombudsman Elvis Amoroso ruled that US-proclaimed Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido is banned from holding any public office for 15 years.
Amoroso based his ruling on alleged financial irregularities from the National Assembly President, claiming that he has held 91 unauthorised foreign trips worth US $160,000 which “no public servant salary can justify.”
The tax agency was also ordered to investigate all of Guaido’s expenses.
“We presume that he falsified data in his [wealth] declaration and [illegally] received money from international bodies,” Amoroso said.
“He has usurped his public functions and committed actions with foreign governments which harm the Venezuelan people,” both of which are punishable under Venezuelan law.
Venezuela’s Attorney General has also opened two criminal investigations against the opposition leader for his actions, with his assets being frozen.
Guaido dismissed the ruling, claiming that the Ombudsman and the National Constituent Assembly, which nominated him, “do not exist.”
Al ver que el cese de la usurpación es inevitable, la dictadura usa un esquema de presión y de represión contra la Presidencia Encargada para meternos miedo. Pero no podrán lograrlo porque, como dijo Roberto, todos somos uno de muchos con el mismo fin.#MarreroEstáSecuestrado pic.twitter.com/mi5VjHNd5m
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) March 29, 2019
“Seeing that the cessation of usurpation is inevitable, the dictatorship uses a scheme of pressure and repression against the Presidency in charge to scare us. But they won’t be able to do it because, as Roberto said, we are all one of many for the same purpose”
On March 29th, work activities will resume in Venezuela, while school is still suspended. The country entered its 4th straight day of blackouts.
Initially power had been restored on March 26th, but an alleged shot from a sniper rifle sent the country into its 3rd blackout within 20 days.
.@jorgerpsuv: The Bolivarian Government informs that on Friday, 29th, labor activities will resume throughout the country. The educational activities at all levels keep suspended. https://t.co/JeBAdtbT4X
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) March 28, 2019
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez also gave a press conference on March 28th, presenting evidence of sabotage of the power grid.
He alleged that the opposition had attempted to carry out more than 250 attacks in the last 2 years, most of them being foiled by the Maduro government. According to his statement, the attacks were intended to cause chaos by leaving the Venezuelan people without electricity for weeks.
“In the last two years, the Venezuelan fascist opposition has perpetrated more than 250 attacks on the National Electric System,” said Rodriguez adding that such attacks have been foiled by the Venezuelan government on different occasions.
The attack was supposedly aimed at leaving Venezuela without power for weeks, but the government would be able to restore it within days. “In almost all the national territory, at this moment, there is electricity, let’s take care of it! Help us help them! Save electricity!”
He further urged the Venezuelan people to “save electricity and keep our willingness and decision to be free, to be sovereign, to be independent.”
As the electricity service returns to the country, the government is working on “the phase of total resizing of the National Electric System.”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro spoke to the TV program Con El Mazo Dando over telephone.
#EnVivo ? | Contacto telefónico con el Programa “Con El Mazo Dando”, para informar a nuestro pueblo sobre la verdad de los ataques terroristas contra el Sistema Eléctrico Nacional. https://t.co/xoIKNdU7Ty
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) March 28, 2019
In his address, the once more blamed the attack on a sniper shot and announced temporary electricity rationing.
“The attack was carried out with a rifle from an elevated area (…) the person who did it was a mercenary sent by the coup mongering opposition. US imperialism is behind this without a doubt,” Maduro said.
As engineers work to repair the damage from the fire at the dam, which caused the widespread blackout, Maduro announced that his government is to implement “electrical charge administration” measures.
While no details were offered on the nature of the electricity rationing, Maduro did explain that the damage caused by the fire is “greater than any Venezuelan can imagine” and that the measure would last “some days.”
Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN Samuel Moncada also condemned the alleged terrorist attacks on the Venezuelan power grid in his statement to the UNSC.
No hay terrorismo bueno. En Venezuela hay terrorismo promovido y protegido por potencias extranjeras, hoy denunciamos ante el Consejo de Seguridad estas acciones criminales y demandamos la acción efectiva del organismo responsable de la paz y seguridad internacionales. pic.twitter.com/Vcm84UxwlT
— Samuel Moncada (@SMoncada_VEN) March 28, 2019
“There is no good terrorism. In Venezuela There is terrorism promoted and protected by foreign powers, today we denounce to the Security Council these criminal actions and we demand the effective action of the body responsible for the international peace and security.”
Finally, Russia also condemned the attack on the Venezuela power grid in a statement by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
“We see a steady chain of actions targeting stability: imposing sanctions on the financial, petroleum, and gold-mining industries, introducing division in society, armed forces, attempts to forcefully bring “humanitarian aid,” the continuous sabotage of the country’s energy system. Yet another attack was made the other day – this time on the transmission lines from the Guri hydroelectric power station that was under cyber-attack three weeks ago. Such facts can be listed ad infinitum. All of this is the conscious provoking of chaos and the collapse of the state where no one can win. Do you understand this in Washington, D.C?”
She also provided a response to Trump’s call on the previous day for Russia to leave Venezuela and that the US would consider “all options” to force it out of the Latin American country.
Vice President Mike Pence, who also attended the meeting, called on Russia to immediately “cease all support of the Maduro regime and stand with […] nations across the world until freedom is restored.”
The statement also reminded of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s calls that happened at the same time before the US Congress. He claimed that the US not only aims for regime change in Venezuela, but also to remove any Russian and Cuban influence from it.
“This begs the question for the above individuals as to the legal basis for those statements:
- A) international law
- B) US domestic legislation
- C) other legal acts nobody else is aware of
To be honest, this is not a rhetorical question. We would still like to have it answered,” Zakharova asked.
Regardless, it appears that pressure is once again ramping up on the Maduro government and it is still unclear if that would warrant a US intervention. It is also apparent that, judging by the ruling against Guaido and the investigations, the Maduro government has decided to also start undertaking action.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
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